Streetwalker – Sink the Bismarck!

When it was constructed, the Bismarck was the largest warship in the world. It displaced more than 50,000 tons and featured 72 total guns; its largest battery were a complement of eight 380mm guns on four turrets, which it used against British heavy cruisers with devastating effect.

The Bismarck only took part in one operation, the Battle of the Denmark Strait of May 24th, 1941, where it sunk the HMS Hood in just three minutes. The Hood was the Royal Navy’s last battlecruiser, a source of pride for the British, and its sinking enraged Winston Churchill to famously order “sink the Bismarck!” Which the Royal Navy did, three days later—they gave chase with two aircraft carriers, three battleships, four cruisers and seven destroyers, finally sinking the German ship 300 miles off the western coast of France. It took two days of sustained torpedo and aircraft attacks to take down the Bismarck.

59 years later the Scottish brewery BrewDog introduced the world’s strongest beer, competitively named “Sink the Bismarck!” This was in response to a German brewery named Schorschbräu that had toppled the Scots’ previous strongest beer, Tactical Nuclear Penguin at 32%, with one that was 40% alcohol. As such, the British never resist a chance to mention the war, and they never shirk away from a tussle with the Teutons. Sink the Bismarck! is 41% alcohol, recapturing the title and bringing beer supremacy back to the Isles*.

Not even Mercedes could escape the flamboyant tailfins of the late 1950s, though official word from Mercedes at the time—in characteristic German rationality—was that the fins were there to help aid parking. The W111 (in Mercedes engineering code) flagship was known rather appropriately as the “fintail,” or in German as the “Heckflosse,” and was only built for 6 years in the sedan form shown here. Paul Bracq designed the W111, and if that name rings a bell it’s because he’s designed many midcentury Mercedes cars as well as Peugeots, Citroëns, and my favorite BMW of all time, the E24 6-Series.
This particular model’s a 230S, which featured Benz’s M180 inline-six at 2.3 liters, good for 120 horsepower. Only the sedan featured this engine throughout the W111’s twelve-year run; later coupes got a V8 engine near the end of its production run.

The Heckflosse was the first car to feature the concept of the crumple zone, patented by Mercedes—crashes in the new W111 resulted in half as many deaths as the Pontons. Of course, when you’re faced with an old Mercedes seemingly honed from a solid block of granite, you’re better off to begin with. The Germans used to build products designed to last, and it would probably take a Royal Navy flotilla to take down a Heckflosse.
Please, however, don’t drink a bottle of Sink the Bismarck! while driving your German battleship.

* Both breweries have since outdone themselves with more alcoholic beers. Schorschbräu’s finest now features43%, while BrewDog came out with a beer called The End of History, a limited-edition, sold-out 55-percenter whose bottle is stuffed inside a taxidermied squirrel, and dressed in a kilt. Because, you know, obviously.

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20 responses to “Streetwalker – Sink the Bismarck!”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    [youtube KecIdlEAKhU youtube]

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      i highly approve of this video. (I came here to post this same song)

  2. tonyola Avatar

    Never cared much for the Fintails – they look too much like 1959 Ramblers to suit me and I just don't find them as attractive as the cars which preceded and followed. The Fintail-generation coupes and convertibles were much better looking because the fins were trimmed back.

    1. Deartháir Avatar


      1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

        while i do prefer the Pontons… i have no problem mit eine Heckflosse
        *off topic… i seem to be at that magical number that shows up just before 70 when decimals are not accounted for… sweet.

  3. longrooffan Avatar

    I absolutely love the big ole headlights on this era euro series Benz's!! Much better than the stacked round ones we got here in the states, IMHO.
    <img src="; width 600 end>
    thanks to CarDomain for the image

    1. dmilligan Avatar

      Lots of people wanted to switch to the euro style headlamps back in the day, but the Feds were really pissy about it for a long time and probably still are. Evidently it's un-American to have stylish headlamps (actually their beef was about headlamp brightness and aiming).

    2. Black Steelies Avatar

      I am on the other side of the fence here. I prefer the US stacked lights, though I consider Euro headlights an improvement in most cases. The sealed beams look more classic or maybe they just remind me of similar American vehicles of the time.

  4. Smells_Homeless Avatar

    Around here, "Sink the Bismarck" is a semi-awesome drinking game, for those who need games to drink beer. Of which I am decidedly not one.

    1. Smells_Homeless Avatar

      Or, if you're serious about it, a bucket and a pint glass.

  5. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    I want badly to drop a modern 6.2L V8 (from the C63 that got me in trouble) into one of these.

    1. chrystlubitshi Avatar

      hell yes. that would have been one sweet "little" machine…..

    2. dmilligan Avatar

      You must enjoy pain.

      1. Tim Odell Avatar
        Tim Odell

        See also: Uberbird

  6. Black Steelies Avatar

    I don't think extra headlights ever made a car look worse.

    1. mdharrell Avatar

      It's a matter of personal preference, of course, but I won't go so far as to say that the old JC Whitney kit to convert '57 Fords to quad headlights made them look any better. I suppose they weren't strictly extra, in that the originals had to be removed for installation.

      1. Black Steelies Avatar

        I was waiting for an opposing viewpoint. I was never a 57 Ford fan myself but I couldn't find any pics of the kit you mentioned on it to say it made them look better, haha.
        <img src="; width="600">
        I did find this Caddy wearing a similar treatment via hemmings, but aw hell you can't make a Cadillac look bad…. waiting.

        1. mdharrell Avatar

          I can't find a photo, either, and I've only ever seen them installed in two '57s many years ago. One was a retractable in Ashland, Oregon. The kit isn't recessed under the brow of the fender, like putting a set of '58 headlights in a '57 (or like the Cadillac you posted). Instead, the lights stick out somewhat in the manner of the factory '57 units, except quad. The effect is probably meant to imitate a '57 Mercury, but doesn't succeed.

          1. Black Steelies Avatar

            Oh I gotcha. That does sound goofy, though more easily googled.

  7. Black Steelies Avatar

    Your favorite BMW of all time?…. MY FAVORITE BMW OF ALL TIME!!

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